Kwashiorkor

You don’t make sense « Life-changing things that don’t matter

Came across this while researching PlumpyNut.

The United States are inhabited by about 300 million people with an unemployment rate of about 5 percent. If you’re interested in the rest of the world, look up Kwashiorkor.

According to Medline, Kwashiorkor is a form of malnutrition characterized by thinning hair, edema, and of course weight loss. You’ve seen the photos of emaciated babies with swollen bellies – that’s Kwashiokor. The swollen belly can be due to edema, but it often is a sign of an overtaxed liver. Death is generally from liver failure.

According to the World Health Organization, the cause of Kwashiorkor is not fully understood. However, one of the main factors is a high carbohydrate, low protein diet. Carbs are cheaper than proteins, so poor people around the world are at risk for kwashiorkor.

The World Health Organziation points to a diet of corn or maize as a contributing factor. Corn is cheap and plentiful, but it is nutritionally incomplete. Complete-protein grains such as quinoa are preferable. They are also prohibitively expensive.

As an aside, I’ve eliminated corn breakfast cereals from my diet. I’ve already stated that corn contains incomplete proteins. There are 9 essential amino acids – protein building blocks that humans can’t synthesize and so must get from food. Two of them, lysine and tryptophan, are missing from corn.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), combining corn with beans makes complete protein. This is not an option for literally billions of the world’s population. It is estimated that 800 million children around the world suffer from Kwashiokor.

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